Author's Note: Fixed/updated on 07OCT05, to reconfigure with the actual Unbroken Universe. There is no more canon!Harry. Please do let me know what you think!
I didn't ask for this.
All I wanted was to protect my friends…and then all I wanted to do was survive. I never thought that I might set off a chain of events that even I couldn't control. I never expected to change everything.
But now I have.
And I don't know what to do with myself. There are so many people watching me, waiting for me to act. Me, the impulsive, foolhardy, and sometimes stupid Sirius Black. The impetuous and unpredictable one. Sometimes they say that I didn't know what I was getting into. They like to think that I just charged in headfirst, and never stopped to think about the risks I was taking. About what might happen.
But they're wrong. I did think, and I did know. I knew that I might very well die because I chose to become James' Secret Keeper. I knew that Voldemort would stop at nothing to find them. I knew he needed Harry—oh, James didn't tell me the prophecy, but I still knew. I'm not a fool, and I'm not blind. I knew that my life might be the price that was required to save theirs'.
And I almost didn't do it. Personal fear for my life, a bit, but more the fear that I might break and betray them. I knew it was possible. For all the confident front that I've spent my life portraying, I know I'm human. I know I'm not infallible. I knew that I could break, die, and betray my friends. But James trusted me, and I did it anyway.
They ask me now, why I didn't break. And I have to say that I don't know.
So they look at me with those wide eyes, not believing that I could hold out for so long. Ten years, they say. Ten years of torture and pain and pressure. Ten years of hanging on for friends who had left me for dead and gone on with their lives. Was it worth it? Of course it was.
Though when I say that, they think me unbreakable. It makes them look at me with those hero-worshiping huge eyes and believe that I am infallible.
But I'm not.
I know that.
I just wish that they did.
Someday, and somehow, this is all going to come down to me. Don't ask me how, but I know that. My choice changed everything, and I made more than one choice.
First, I chose to be James' Secret Keeper, and did so knowing what it might cost me. That started this whole thing. But it was finished the moment that I chose to step around a corner and face the most powerful dark wizard who has ever lived.
No one believes me now, when I say that I thought I'd die. They think I'm being modest.
Only James, Remus, and Peter understand, and even they sometimes look at me differently. Sometimes, I see it in their eyes—they see that Azkaban changed me, that I grew and I changed. But I'm not so very different, really. And I wish that they didn't think so sometimes, because I haven't changed as much as I sometimes think I have. Does that make any sense? No. Of course not.
Yet I made the choice. I know they'll stand by me up to the bitter end, but somehow I know that moment will be mine. It's a knowledge that resides in this very deep part of my soul, a dark corner that I've come to know well since Casa Serpente and Azkaban. It's that place that I found shelter in when the pain became too much, the one corner of my heart that has always remained my own. Somehow, I know that at that bitter end, it will just be me.
Alone. In a storm, Remus says, and I know why.
Oh, yes. I know. November 12, 1981. Death Eaters broke my door down and took me. I fought well, of course—but not well enough. They had known who and what I was going in. So their best had come to fetch Mad-Eye Moody's star pupil, the Auror of the next generation. That was what I was then.
Ten years in Casa Serpente and Azkaban sought to change that. I fought against it, even knowing I would fail. Oh, yes, I knew. How could one not? Even the most stubborn human beings (of which I was certainly one) had to change in the depths of those dark hells. You learned yourself there, when everything you had come to depend upon in life was torn away. You looked at who you really were, at the strengths you had buried deep inside, and you saw yourself for what you really were. What you could be.
There was a vow I made to myself every day in that place. I vowed that I would not fail. I would not fail my friends. I would not break the others.
And it kept me from breaking inside.
My choice. My responsibility. My arrogance, my cockiness, my spitting angry words back in Voldemort's face and receiving pain in return. Because that wasn't all he gave me. He gave me a look inside myself. He forced me to see Sirius Black. Not Padfoot. Not the friend Peter, James, and Remus had always known. Voldemort showed me something older and deeper, and I suppose, in a way, I owe him that.
Four boys made a pact in 1971. We swore to be brothers, and to never betray one another. We swore to stand together, no matter what, until the end—and every time I looked at Voldemort, I swore we would not fail. I never even thought about what might have happened if I had not become James' Secret Keeper. I never considered the happy and painless life I might have had. I just hung on, day by day, and moment by moment. In those times, and never until then, I realized that our boyish oaths had the power to move the world. They had the power to determine fate.
So I made the choice. I took the chance. And by doing so, I placed the fate of our world cleanly into my own hands. My friends would live; I'd sworn that to myself without considering the costs. I never thought of how it might affect me, beyond the fact that I might die.
But now it's mine. They can say whatever they want, but I know the truth. I made the choice, and I'll have to live with the consequences. I don't know how I'll manage, or even if I can, but I will.
I never asked for this.
But I will not fail. It's not a matter of if I can afford to fail or not, not now. I made the choice, and I'll see it through.
Because if there is one thing Voldemort taught me, beyond seeing myself, it is the power of friendship. That isn't a feeling he can understand, you know, for all he claims the Death Eaters are his "true family." He doesn't know the meaning of the words, and he never will—more than once, I caught him staring at me and wondering why I hung on for something so meaningless. But it wasn't meaningless. Neither was our oath to stand by one another until the end—and that oath still holds true. So no matter what happens, I shall make sure of one thing, the only thing that matters: the Marauders will end together. Victorious or in death, we will stand together. This will not end with one of us left alone.